My mom lived to be 101 and six months. She said once you reached 99 you started counting your age in months again. She used to advise that if you wanted to live to be a hundred you should live to be 99 and then be very, very careful.
My mom was a tough, no-nonsense woman. A Daughter of the American Revolution, survivor of the great depression, an honest as the day is long woman of the Texas soil. She had what John Wayne called True Grit. I think anyone who lives so long, one in about 40, 000, must have True Grit.
So what was her secret to longevity?
She was always willing to try new things. Never one to let life leave her behind and never one to say “I’m too old for that.” She bought her first computer when she was 88, was on the internet writing emails at 92 and had a 115 Facebook Friends when she died. She refused to let technology leave her behind. Even when her hands were gnarled by arthritis and she could no longer type, she would dictate her emails to those who would type for her. Just a few days before she passed she was admiring my IPHONE and asked if I would get her one for Christmas.
I second secret was that she never stopped moving. She mowed her own lawn til she was 85 and never stopped gardening at all. She continued to do her own dishes and laundry right up to her last days. She went to church three times a week and never allowed most illness to keep her away. She’d say, “ I won’t feel any worse at church, and I might feel better.”
She was courageous. For her 101st birthday she asked me to take her for a ride on my motorcycle. I told her I would have to strap her down with bungee cords and she said that would be fine. Always ready for the next adventure.
She had great pride. Her measure of people was in whether or not they took pride in what they did and how they lived.sometimes her standards were unfair, like the time she visited Arizona and complained about the shabby lawns. I reminded her that is was a desert and she said, “But if they had pride, they’d have nice yards.”
That was her central value, I suppose. Pride. She always said to me, “Make sure you live a life you can be proud of.” And if she didn’t personally like something, like the new truck I’d bought, let’s say, she’d say, “Well it’s not my kinda truck, but I’m proud of it for ya.”
And that pride she looked for her in others was evident in her, especially in her feminine pride. Last year I took her to the hair salon, a place she still called the beauty parlor, so she could get her hair done for her 101st birthday. On the way home I told her how lovely she looked. She said, “You, know, a lot of people think I look only about 90.”
Not many women ever get to say that.
I’m W. F. Strong, These are stories from Texas. This one is true.